Saturday, December 31, 2005

Smells You can See

This essay was originally written and broadcast on Tuesday, May 3, 2005
Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousand of miles and all the years you have lived.
--Helen Keller

Isn’t that an amazing statement?

Of course, some of the most profound thoughts were expressed by Helen Keller… born without the senses with which most of us are equipped, and yet despite those physical shortcomings, she developed an incredible capacity to perceive, understand, explain and express herself, in many ways far better than “normal” people around her. I think Helen Keller is one of the most inspirational personalities in American history.

Isn’t it funny how a smell can transport you to another time and place?

Fried chicken does that to me. Crispy, crusty, salty, crunchy fried chicken from my grandmother’s stove top in the house my grandfather built with his own hands. I can still see that kitchen--the splashboard behind the sink trimmed in white and black ceramic octagonal tiles, and a floor that creaked and squeaked when you walked across the flowered linoleum. Grandmother Clanton's kitchen always carried the aromas of Sunday dinner cooking, supplied by a pantry brimming with home-canned jellies and jams, and usually a quick treat to bribe me to leave.

Patchouli is another fragrance that can send me spinning back to high school in the ‘70’s, with the rich, warm musky smell of a gentle girlfriend’s perfume, daubed at the nape of her neck, and sweetly wafting from her hair with the feathered bangs.

I can still hear the slam of the locker doors, the echoes of voices shouting, laughing, and calling out to one another in the commons before classes. Remember the sharp tang of the mimeograph machines? Purple on white pages, lined with fill-in-the-blanks, multiple-guess questions, and essay challenges. We’d take one and pass it back, pressing the stack to our faces to inhale the traces of whatever it was that made that machine work.
Today they’d throw you in detention for that—isn’t that like sniffing glue? What did we know then?

Do you remember what a newborn baby smells like-- just home for the first time from the hospital, all swathed in yellow flannel: The smell of clean linen and baby oil. Picture that memory, and you can also hear the gentle sound of unencumbered slumber, see the subtle flickers of the eyes beneath the tiniest of eyelids, not yet accustomed to seeing light.
Sometimes I can see my children as I saw them for the first time—each one—and all it takes is the lid left off a box of baby powder. The smell of innocence and promise, hope, and perfection.

There is an overpass on the highway I drive each day that passes behind a candle factory. I never knew this until I took a detour one afternoon, when the freeway was clogged in a rain storm, and I discovered the wholesale candle factory outlet store, tucked away on a street still boasting a rounded asphalt surface, and lush, green bar ditches on either side, brimming with rain water run off.

In the early morning hours as I passed by on my way to work, I would drive through a zone of air so rich with the aroma of the previous night’s candle making, that it would drive my senses wild: seductive roses, warm and friendly vanillas, and sweetly thick magnolia scents. Each one a flavor of a memory, unlocked in my subconscious until resurrected by a unique twinge in my olfactory…the smells of childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and last year--just a delicate sniff away from instant recall.

You’re passing through a memory right now—what is it?
Roll down the window: whether it’s a newly-mown field on the outskirts of your commute, fresh tar poured over a new stretch of pavement down town, or a new batch of doughnuts popping out of the machine at the corner... savor the smells. Savor the moments, and someday, years from now, when that chemical combination again tinkers with your nose, you’ll remember what you were doing, right about now.

May the new experiences you share in 2006 be the foundations for wonderful memories in the years ahead.
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2005


This morning I mentioned today's show conlcuded the third week of originating from The Studio at The Clanton Hacienda, and that I would shortly be cleaning up the room before my Bride decides to trade me in on a less-messy model. Somewhere in that soliloquy, I made a vain promise to publish before and after photos of how this remote broadcasting outpost could really be tidied up.

Silly me.

Someone actually dared me to put up or shut up. So, I am putting up on the site for your viewing pleasure the ugly inside look at the scene behind the scenes here each morning. This is what my Bride wakes up to--except it's worse: I am usually sitting before these glowing screens, unshaven and be-robed. I usually need breakfast, she is gently reminded. This goes on each weekday morning.

Today after the show, I did follow through on my promise to tidy up, and here is the photographic proof you demanded. I realize the rig on the left ain't no piece of Queen Anne furniture, but hey, it is an improvement over the former, don't you agree?

I don't think anyone is going to be hiring me as an interior decorator anytime soon. Which is why I will see you on the Radio!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Happier New Year

This morning we backed into a discussion about the merits of education and its impact on levels of success. A University of Chicago survey published this week suggested We the People are a bit more stressed and a little less ebullient about our prospects in the coming New Year.

It is not surprising that the number of those reporting at least one significant "negative life event" since 1991 jumped from 88% to 92%. The storms this past summer alone would account for that. September 11, 2001 also fell into that window, so the jump in negativity is plausible...

But wait, there's more.

The U of C survey provides several interesting metrics about the people who answered their phones to participate, including the fact that 15% had been unemployed for a month, four points higher than in 1991. That might be an inherent flaw in the survey: Who better to answer the phone than someone who's not at work?

The part of the poll that got me really cranked up on education was the observation that troubles were greatest among those with low income, poor education levels and among unmarried mothers. I think that the first two factors are defintely connected, and reversing the second factor is a key to solving problems for those in categories one and three.


Education is the key to a better income.
Education is the key to a better way of life.

A listener sent an e-mail to share that she teaches at the inner-city campus of a major state university, and she sees a pervasive attitude that students feel they are owed a diploma if they've paid the tuition. She wrote that mind-set is even more pronounced for those who are attending on someone else's tuition dollars--i.e. through state or federal programs paying their way by virtue of their "disadvantaged" social status.

Anyone getting their college paid for by someone else is at no disadvantage, unless, of course, they squander the opportunity by failing to apply themselves. But that's not the mentality, according to our listener, who's in a position to know: she is in the college classroom, where the rubber meets the road, or in this case, where the chalk scrapes the blackboard.

Not happy with how 2005 panned out for you?

Make 2006 the year you do something about it...and if your path to success leads through a classroom or two, more power to you! You'll pay for the priviledge to learn, you'll work for the recognition of your achievement...and you'll be a richer person for the experience.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Houston, We have a Problem

Today is the start of my third week doing my radio show from my home.
I could get used to this.

Hot breakfast served by the prettiest woman I know...newspaper brought to my beverage glass is constantly freshened. And when I finish the show, I either crawl back into the rack (pre-warmed by the aforementioned woman), or read the paper cover to cover while soaking in a sitz bath--Doctor's orders.

This morning's show was marked by our first audio interruption in three weeks. I connect from The Studio at The Clanton Hacienda via a Comrex Matrix POTS codec.

That's fancy talk for what we call a "blue box," which encodes analog audio into digital "one's and zero's," ships it down a Plain Old Telephone System line (my house phone) to the Radio station, where a companion POTS codec de-codes the one's and zero's back into analog.
The magic comes out your speakers.

This morning the Blue Box failed me in mid-sentance.
Just stopped working.
Cold turkey.
Dead air.

I did not curse. In fact, I continued talking, hoping against hope the box was still pumping my one's and zero's into the ether. It wasn't.

My Producer, Buddy, nimbly hit a piece of audio in the studio and went to a break, while we scrambled to get the circuit restored. Just in time to stop for our pal, Lou Dobbs' report.

Fortunately, the Blue Box behaved itself the rest of the morning.

See you in the morning on the Radio.

Monday, December 26, 2005


‘Tis the week after Christmas,
and all through the house…
The decorations and tinsel and lights
all have been doused.
The stockings that had hung
from the mantel with care,
Once plumped with anticipation,
are now deflated and spare.

They’re all boxed and labeled and put away for the year,
Along the with new stuff: 50%-off really spreads lots of cheer!
And the old year is waning, the new year on deck—
That’s how we keep track on this rock (we’re just a speck).

The idea of Christmas all year has some merit—
Not for the gifts and the giving and getting—I couldn't bear it.
But I’d vote for an annual season of Thanksgiving
To put in proper perspective the spirit’s true meaning.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

ANWR: Bah! Humbug!

If I could send a lump of coal to each U.S. Senator for Christmas, I would. Some of them might find a lump of lignite handy in light of their vote Wednesday night to deny development of energy resources in Alaska. For people who are smart enough to keep getting re-elected to office, they sure seem like a dense bunch.

The proposal to allow drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve was dropped from legislation that also included funding for defense spending projects. If it weren’t so tragic it would be amusing to see this amazing disconnect between the two issues.

Why are we so interested in what happens in the Middle East?
Why are we helping foster democratic reforms in Iraq?
Okay—it is the right thing to do, but there’s also that Oil thing.

America needs secure sources of energy, and the Middle East has it in abundance. So we’re willing to spend money to send U.S. troops to that corner of the world to bleed and die for democracy, freedom...and the pursuit of oil.

Meanwhile back home, America is being overrun by a philosophy of “not in my back yard.” Everyone wants cheap gasoline, but no one is willing to allow more drilling on the West Coast, East Coast, or in Alaska.

(Actually—the people of Alaska have no problem with ANWR drilling—it’s the environmentalist elite in Washington that’s blowing enough hot air to melt the Polar Ice Cap)

(Hmm…interesting corollary to global warming theory.)

So we’re left with most of America’s petroleum production clustered along our Gulf Coast, where it can be (and has been) ravaged by Summer Hurricanes, and the price we pay is not just in higher costs for motor fuels, but also in the level of dependence we still have on foreign oil sources.

I really don’t want to hear some Democrat Senator honking in the next campaign about how the Bush Administration has no energy policy, when Congress guts legislation to turn us back towards more domestic production. So long as we’re beholden to imported petroleum products, we’re going to be in double-jeopardy, dealing with the problem of national security and energy dependency on people for whom U.S. interests are not a priority.

Too bad politics took precedence over prescience this week in Washington.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Totally Tubeless

This is the next in a series of pieces on my post-op progress following prostate cancer surgery two weeks ago (12/5). If you’re squeamish, go to the next blog.

Yesterday they took out my catheter. Some people call this a foley—I don’t know why, but I’m pretty sure the department store doesn’t appreciate the word association. From now on, “let’s go to Foley’s” will not have pleasant connotations for me.

Actually, after hearing all the dire predictions of how uncomfortable it was going to be to pull several inches of rubber tubing out of the end of my penis--and remembering what the doctor said just before he removed my abdominal drain tube (“you’re not going to like this much”)--the moment was almost anti-climactic.


There was one, last sharp twinge, deep inside, as he said, “I’ll just twist this (the catheter) to loosen it up first…” followed by a distinct burning sensation as the horrid invader snaked out of my snake. I could almost smell the burning rubber…

It also helped that my bride and World’s Greatest Nurse had doped me up with sufficient levels of doctor-recommended Vicodin, Motrin, and Xanax prior to the procedure. Don’t laugh; I had asked the nurse if they happened to have any Nitrous Oxide on hand.

So I no longer feel like a three-legged piano stool. Now, I’m into indoor field & track and water sports: Can I make it from the bed to the bathroom before my weakened, tortured sphincter loses the battle with fluids that have built up in my bladder in the past three minutes--when I last leaped towards the Great Ceramic Pedestal?

My next challenge is to regain control of those magical muscles in my nether regions that control such things. (A visitor tonight commented I looked like a King, propped up in bed, writing this piece.)

Given the content, I feel more like the Prince of Tides.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Time Well Spent

My convalescence has resulted in an abundance of Time to Get Things Done on the Phone. I mentioned last week a series of successes with various entities. Happy to report that my patience on the phone resulted in a 99-cent natural gas bill this month, a $10 gift card from the newspaper subscription department, and a win while tilting at windmills with the County Appraisal District.

I believe in telling good stories about people who’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty in doing their job.

Cynthia Gray is one such individual.

Cynthia spent a lot of time with me on the phone last week from her cubicle at the County Appraisal District. The County managed to ignore my valuation protest this Summer, and certified my home value way higher than it should have been. Cynthia’s job is to unravel those kinds of things, and she had her cut out for herself with me, especially since I am unable to travel about town right now.

But she persevered—on my behalf—even going into the office last Saturday morning to finish up several cases like mine. Within ten minutes in our final phone call together, she was able to verify the actual sales price of our home when we acquired it last March, and certified the price as the correct valuation for the taxing authorities. She also promised that her office would contact the other tax offices and our mortgage escrow department with the correct figures.

Lots of dirt is flung at the County Appraisal offices around the state. Some of it may be justified. But at the Harris County Appraisal District, Cynthia Gray is worth her weight in gold. Or at least a tax deduction!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Nothing but Time...

One of the lesser-known benefits of being under post-operative “house arrest” is that you can get a lot of personal phone work accomplished that is just impossible to do during the day at the office.

Normally, you get home in the evening, and in the day’s mail is a letter you must respond to right away, which is impossible. Business hours are past.

But when you’re laying up in bed, captive in your own castle with a wireless phone at your elbow, there’s little you can’t accomplish. All it takes is a commodity of which you’ve got plenty—time.

For example, last week I began to see statements from the various school district taxing authorities arrive in my mail box. Ho hum, boring, I thought.

Woops—the county appraisal district failed to honor my protest, and certified an obscenely high value upon which to base my property taxes for the next year.

No problem…with time on my hands, and a mouse at my fingertips, I accessed the property information on line, and called the County Appraisal District. Spoke with a very helpful employe named Bertram (like the yacht, she said), who took my story, verified my information, and agreed that the appraisal office had, indeed, erred in certifying my values without a hearing. She’d have someone get back to me by the end of the next day.

That call took 55-minutes, including the hang-up when they dropped my call on accident, and Bertram called me back. Could not have possibly accomplished that during a regular workday.

The very next day I received a call that normally would have been left on my answering machine. One of the doctors we use has had a terrific time collecting from our health insurance company. That’s the germ of a whole other piece. Seems there’s a disagreement on what deductibles had been reached this year, which calls for a call to the health insurance company.

Ever call your health coverage provider at work? It’s technically business-related, right, since your employer provides you with the benefit, right? But try to get anything like that done on the phone from the office…forgettaboutit.

I began to punch in digits on the phone…and 43-minutes later, I’d negotiated three voice-activated, automated calling trees, spoken with two customer service representatives, and had extracted an e-mail of the records I needed from one entity, and a fax number to which I could send them to the other entity. And a partridge in a pear tree.

No way I’d have gotten that done at the office.

Today, I got a piece in the mail from our newspaper route salesman telling me I owed back subscriptions for two months, and asking for the next three months to be paid ahead.
Say what?
Thought my paper subscriptions were debited monthly…

I got to thinking about this. If the paper route I am on includes 1,000 customers, and only half of the subscribers pony up that kind of cash, this will be a very merry Christmas for the paper person, despite the fact she has to throw her route Christmas morning. Couldn’t she have just worked out a co-op with Santa the night before?

So, with the morning paper already comfortably crumpled at my feet on the comforter at the foot of the bed, I smiled and dialed the toll-free number to the newspaper subscription department.

I know what the music will be like in Hell. They’re playing it on hold at the newspaper.

Mercifully, I only had to hold for 13-minutes before a seasonally-cheery telemarketing/customer service operator came on the line. Not only did she confirm I’d been paying monthly, but something had gone amiss, she brought the account current through the end of the year, set me up for monthly auto drafts, and dropped a $10 gift card in the mail to me.

No, there’s no way you can get that kind of follow through on a phone call from the office.

You know, the county never did call me back about that first issue. Good thing my calendar is clear for tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Studio at The Clanton Hacienda

Some of you have asked how I am doing, and why I am doing the show from home this week. The next question that always pops up is HOW we’re getting the show from The Studio at The Clanton Hacienda onto the airwaves and to you.


And lots of luck.
And even more patience and accommodation by my bride.

We arise at 4am, which is sleeping late for me! I start three computers booting, and take care of the unique plumbing requirements of my recovery from surgery (you really don’t want to know those details.)

By 4:15, I am “re-plumbed,” and sitting in a soft cushy chair, on a softer, more-cushy pillow, which by the end of the show might as well be a piece of granite. Mit Tai, my Producer, has sent me a list of my guests the day before, and I begin to assemble the notes and thoughts that I want to include in the day’s show.

A glance at Matt Drudge’s website, the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, the Ft. Worth Star, all make up part of my routine “beat” each morning. I filter through the various e-mails that have arrived overnight, too. FYI, comments from this Blog are automatically routed to my e-mail inbox.

By 5am I have a working outline for the show, and Buddy Cantu, my Studio Producer, arrives at the station and we link up first by Instant Message. At that point the magic really does begin. My bride gets up and cooks me breakfast.

But there’s more.
The companies that operate the BizRadio Network have created a private fiber network that connects offices in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. From my home, I tap into that network on a secure, encoded line, and link the house with the station.

If you’re into technical stuff, I am using a Groove Tube GT-55 mic, fed into a Eurorack 1202FX mixer, which feeds into the computer that’s making the link from here to there.
It’s deceptively simple.

At the station, Buddy sets a few switches and sliders, and feeds back down the line to me an audio stream from the station. We usually listen to Jazz CD’s while we’re prepping for the show.

At 5:30a, Buddy and I re-confirm our connections, and Tim Wolfe links up from his news center. At that point it’s a race against the clock. At 6am, more magic—a computer deep within the bowels of the broadcast complex switch our control room to “live” status, and we begin our broadcast day.

Buddy fields the phone calls, cues the orchestra, and brings my guests and the feed from the house up on the master console in the control room. For three hours, we take calls, coordinate guests, feeds from Tim, and IM’s and e-mails from you.

By 9am, I am spent.
I need more meds, and Buddy is already working ahead to Michael Norman’s show, fed in similar fashion from his secret lair on Wall Street. And that plumbing issue needs to be tended to.

I will return to the doctor on Monday, when the “plumbing”will be removed, and I can begin the final phase of healing from my operation. I get stronger each day, but still tire easily. I am one of the lucky one’s. I will not require chemotherapy or radiation. Besides, the show must go on.

See you in the morning on the radio.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Letter

I receive hundreds of interesting tidbits of information and pieces via e-mail each week from lots of different sources. You may see some of these in an e-mail forward weeks or months from now. But every once in a while, one will drop into my lap that is so astonishing, I have to share it with you right away…

One of the lists I am on is from Rubel Shelly, because I believe that your success in business and in life is, in part, a direct connection with your level of spirituality and how you are able to apply those aspects to your secular life. There is a connection…it does matter…and I suppose most of us are a bit more attuned to such an aspect at this time of year.

Mr. Shelley has illuminated an interesting movement starting to pick up steam across the country. Those of you who have received e-mail replies from me with a scolding attachment correcting some mistatement of the facts (I love know that I am more than a little cynical about some of these "movements"…because they tend to be knee-jerk fads that come and go. They are often shallow.

But this one shows real promise.
Churches across the country are offering workshops to teach people how to write love letters.


Love letters.

Not soft porn, re-worked Barry White lyrics, or wooing-letters to the love- besmitten. Honest, from the heart letters written in true love and appreciation of the relatonships that make up the tapestry of our lives.

And all denominations are picking up on the importance of this idea of writing love letters…Lutherans, Seventh-day Adventists, Catholics, and Baptists have participated. From California to Florida, Texas to Alaska, people are enrolling.

An initiator of this movement is a 57-year-old man who found his late father's banged-up tackle box while cleaning out his garage. It dawned on him that the tangled, rusty fishing lures in that box were all he had left from his dad's hands. And he was suddenly angry at his father for not leaving him something more personal and substantive from his heart.

Then he wondered if he was doing any better by his own children. Wouldn’t you wonder that, too? How many of you have, or know of those you have in the last year undertaken the process of going through the “stuff” of a loved one, and reflecting upon our own situation. If you dropped dead, what would you leave your loved one’s?

On a business station, at this point, we generally like to talk about estate planning, and making sure all those important financial, fiduciary bases are covered. That’s important stuff, alright, but there’s more to it than that.

Greg Vaughn, the man left with little more than his father’s tackle box, resolved that day to leave his children letters-- documenting joys he had shared with them, his hopes for their future, his pride in their achievements. Letters about his faith in them as persons. And so it was from that event--and Vaughn's experiences in sharing it with some friends--that "Letters From Dad" was born.

Stop and think honestly for minute, when was the last time you sat down and wrote someone a real letter – as opposed to text messaging or just signing a birthday card? A letter that did not involve a sales call follow-up, a demand for accounts due, or any other business function.

Isn’t it amazing that we can crank-out mind-numbing business epistles, memos that run for paragraphs and paragraph, and subject our peers to Death by Power-Point…but sitting down and putting onto paper what’s inside your heart for those closest to you—without the therefore’s, where-of’s, and what-so-ever legalese – that’s hard.
That requires focus and concentration.
Writting a letter calls for a certain minimum-level of creative energy to communicate clearly. And it almost always pulls up feelings along with mere facts and memories.

That's why it is so hard for men to write one.
Ladies, you’d benefit from putting things on paper too.
But guys seem to have a tougher time with feelings. We struggle to put emotional content into conversations with people who mean the most to us.

So an occasional "Love ya!" in passing, or "Love, Bob" at the bottom of a greeting card is all some wives, children, or parents ever get from their husbands, dads, and sons.

So I am joining with Rubel Shelley in recommending an idea to you: Whatever else you give your mate or your offspring or your parents this Christmas, write them a love letter to go with it.

There's still time to write them.
There are 11-days until Christmas.
Write the letters.
Sleep on them.
Revise them and make them better.

Just put some of your heart on paper to them.
Tell her how important she is to you.
Let him know you are proud of him.
Thank her for what she does to make your life better.
Forget literary flourish.
Put some love on paper.
Offer it shamelessly.

Continue the practice next year – on an anniversary, birthday, or special event. Or just write one out of the blue.

The people you love both need and deserve to know it. What a wonderful legacy you can begin today—for Christmasses in the future.

Friday, December 09, 2005


If it’s been a while since you were a patient in a hospital, you may be in for a few surprises. In recent years there has been more emphasis placed on allowing family members to become a more integral part of the treatment and healing process. My brother, who is a doctor, jokingly remarked he might want to “scrub-in” for my recent procedure.

Having family and friends with you in the hospital makes a world of difference in the recovery process. Sometimes, it’s the difference between life and death, when alert relatives are able to recognize problems and summon help in time to avoid fatal mistakes in patient care.

I had a great nursing staff waiting on me during a four-day hospitalization for prostate cancer surgery. The nurses and physicians’ assistants were excellent in their responses to my needs, and provided a quality environment for my post-surgical care. It also helped that there was a lead advocate for my care right next to me, every step of the way, each day and night of my stay. Slept in my room, in fact.

The best caregiver I have ever had is also my helpmeet, my soul-mate, the mother of my children, and has been by side for the past 26-years. It’s fortunate that hospitals recognize the enormously healthful bond between husbands and wives, when one of the partners is in their care. I can’t imagine how my recovery would have been without my bride by my side. She can’t imagine being anywhere else.

I am a fortunate man, indeed.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Prescription for Appreciation

Bedside at The Clanton Hacienda--There is an un-sung corps of workers today that deserve far more attention than they receive, are vastly underpaid (I suspect,) and without whom, many of us would literally not survive some of the things life throws in our path.

For the past four days, I have been the joint responsibility of a cadre of healthcare professionals at St. Luke’s Hospital in the Texas Medical Center in Houston. These dedicated men and women doted over me with fresh sheets and towels, collection and disposal of various bodily fluids, and endured my lame wit and absence of dexterity in handling simple electronic tools (like hospital TV remote control boxes). I never knew there were so many different ways of presenting a “clear liquid diet.”

When you go to the hospital, you check a lot of things at the door: Personal freedom, your sense of style, all modicums of modesty, and to an extent, personal responsibility—all bagged and tagged for when you leave.

Clothing is replaced by what must have been Mao’s wet dream in fashion advances: one-size-fits-most gowns, that are equally revealing coming or going. Modesty is practiced only by the nursing staff on themselves. Once the admission forms are completed, there’s very little in the way of personal responsibility with which you should trouble your head. They even give pills to make you poop.

I found the nursing staff at St. Luke’s to be kind and professional , going above and beyond the call of duty, whether it was for pain medication in the middle of the night, or working out the correct sequencing of events ("Why don't you shower before changing that dressing?," etc.)

I don’t think I will miss getting my vital signs checked every two hours the night following my operation, but knowing they were going to be close by and were checking on my wellbeing that first, pain-fogged night, was a comfort. And they knew all the answers.

So, my heart-felt appreciation, admiration, and thanks to Bill, Diane, Christine, Shelia, Shaneeka, and those who were but nameless faces in the pain-haze of that first overnight shift.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Program Notes and Looking Ahead

T-minus three days and counting…about this time on Monday morning, I will be feeling no pain, thanks to the miracle of modern pharmaceuticals. I will be off the air all next week, following cancer surgery scheduled for early Monday morning. We’ve done a pretty good job of lining up some interesting guest-hosts for the show that we hope you will enjoy and appreciate listening to…

Monday and Tuesday former congressman Chris Bell will be discussing the business of immigration, and how immigration affects business…health insurance reform, and a few other surprises and connections from his sphere of influence from Austin to Washington D. C.

Wednesday, Jack Warkenthien and C. J. Coolidge will get you pumped up and ready for the middle of the week with some strategies for working through the rough spots in office politics and getting ahead in your career.

Thursday’s guest hosts will be our special version of the Three Amigo’s—Jon Vaughn as ringleader for Bill Payne and John Bott…a weekday morning version of "What’s Working Now," and things you won’t hear about anywhere else but here on The BizRadioNetwork…

Friday’s show will feature three special guests with Jack Warkenthien: Financial guru Rick Friedman, Wilka Toppins, Latin American business attorney extraordinaire, and the man who created bottled lightning and uses it every morning as a hair tonic, Harold Gunn. All in all, an interesting blend of characters and content next week…you may not want me back!

Many of you may not know I have been diagnosed with prostate cancer—I’ve not made a secret of it—have discussed it at length on my blog several times—but I’ve also intentionally not made my cancer a personal crusade of any type.

This show really isn’t about me—it’s about you, it’s about how you can have a richer, more successful life, and about how you can leverage your success for the good of those around you. But you’ve got to stick around a few years for that to happen, so I will be a more strident advocate for the concept of early detection, and the methods available to you for that, because that’s how we caught mine.

I have cancer.
I have friends with cancer, and theirs is much more serious than mine—although the procedure I will be having Monday morning is the closest male equivalent of a hysterectomy, so far as I can tell.
Hence the non-recreational pharmaceuticals.
I’m working on really bonding with my anesthesiologist--kept asking his nurse, Lei, for samples at the Pre-Op appointment.

Cancer is serious stuff…but it need not be a death sentence, especially if you catch it in time. Guys, I know we don’t like to talk about this stuff in polite company…the but truth is, we don’t like to talk about it, period, whether company is polite or rude, crude and socially-challenged. Get over it. Since my initial announcement in late October, I have had more and more people (men) confide that because of my comments here, they have heeded the message and gotten their PSA levels checked. That’s a no-brainer.

Starting the process earlier is pretty straightforward, too. Do it today, you’ll feel better tomorrow—at least you’ll derive some peace of mind that these kinds of things are being monitored. Again, early detection is the key, and you must have a base line from which to determine your status from year to year.

I would also like to thank those of you in the audience who have been so thoughtful in expressing your good wishes and support for me and my family as we begin what will surely be a challenging time in our lives. I personally appreciate so much you who have shared with me your own experiences with cancer, especially those who’ve gone through this particular procedure.

On paper this looks pretty straightforward; they tell me the radical prostatectomy procedure is fairly routine, with the usual risks associated with any abdominal surgery, with one or two unique twists thrown in, just to make things interesting.
Look, it may be routine for the docs who do this for a living, but not for me.
Have I mentioned my gratitude for modern pharmacology?

So that’s it. I have cancer, it’s been discovered early, we’re addressing it appropriately, and the prognosis is excellent for my recovery. It’s just going to take some time, and I believe we’ve assembled a credible cast of players to keep you stimulated and informed next week.

When next you hear my voice, I will be broadcasting from the solarium at The Clanton Hacienda. Thanks for your thoughts, prayers, and support.

Now, where’s that Xanax sample…?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Wright Turns

The latest wrinkle in the Wright Amendment War was creased and starched yesterday when President George Bush allowed an exception to the rule, enabling flights from Love Field to Missouri…and American Airlines announced plans to resume some flight operations from the in-town airport.

Apparently, Missouri loves company, and American knows it.

American also knows that it could lose market share without a presence at Love Field—which would seem to be a departure from the hard line alliance with D-FW airport, and another mark on the tote board for rescinding The Wright Amendment.

Missouri is the 9th state to nail down service from Love Field. The new market includes lucrative connections to St. Louis and Kansas City…and this might be the nail in the coffin for the restrictions imposed by the Wright Amendment.

Isn’t it interesting to see competition at work?

For a company that was such a staunch ally of the Dallas-Ft. Worth airpot, American will be going after the new market in a big way--literally--flying its larger 710 jets out of Love Field. American is going to match Southwest's ticket pricing, too.

Amazing what unfettered competition can do.

Here are the next questions—who’s next at Love Field? Continental?
And what about Dallas’ master plan for development around Love Field? What of the politicians who were so vocally against rescinding the Wright restrictions (Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson) as well as suspiciously silent either way (Sen. Kay Baily Hutchinson)?

It may take a tower full of air traffic controllers to coordinate lawmakers' flight plan revisions as the windsock of change seems to be doing a Wright one-eighty.